“I’ve found two more daughters.”
Those are the words I was greeted with when my wife, Rocky, returned from what we thought was going to be her “once in a lifetime” volunteer trip to Kenya with Global Volunteer Network in October of 2007. She had fallen in love with the girls at St. Monica’s Children’s Home and two of them, Winnie and Joyce, had captured her heart in such a way that she felt compelled to make them an official part of our family.
If you’ve ever met my wife, you know this… she is a force to be reckoned with. The first words out of my mouth were, “you know I’ll do whatever you think is best for this family.” I could argue, just for the sake of arguing, but in the end, I know that she would only fight for what she felt was best for everyone involved. It’s just who she is.
We already had 6 children, 4 boys and 2 girls. The youngest two, both girls, are adopted from Guatemala. So, I followed my initial comment with these words, “If you really think we have the time and energy to bring two more girls into our family, I’d like you to at least consider the possibility of using that time and energy to help more than just two. Why don’t you think about helping all of them.”
That conversation changed our lives. That “once in a lifetime” trip to Kenya turned a blog created to give moms a place to have a voice for social good, into a charity by the same name, Mothers Fighting For Others. And it turned a desire to adopt 2 more girls into a actions that have changed the lives of 35 orphaned Kenyan girls forever.
What we didn’t know.
You see, what we didn’t know at the time we made that decision was that image of the home put forth by the priest who ran the old St. Monica’s, was a carefully crafted facade. These beautiful girls, who had already been through too much pain, were being taken advantage of in ways that became clearer and clearer as Rocky and other volunteers began to make more trips back to Kenya. When the truth was fully revealed, action had to be taken. Finally, in April of 2010, the girls were moved, as a family, into the house they now call home, and MFFO, in conjunction with our friend, Perpetua Gatome, and her Kenyan NGO, Sister’s Arise Project, took over the care and education of the girls.
I leave for my first trip to Kenya today.
I hesitate to call this a “once in a lifetime” journey. I know what happened the last time I did that. This will be Rocky’s 10th trip in four years. And our 6 children, ages 6 to 17, will be joining us on this amazing adventure. The kids and I are finally going to meet our Kenyan family. For the last four years we have known them only through letters, photos and videos.
Our kids call the girls at St. Monica’s their “Kenyan Sisters.” The girls in Kenya call me Dad. And while I have marveled at the courage my wife and others had in fighting to put the girls into a safe home, and have cried many times listening to their story and watching their videos, I’ve been missing that final piece of the connection that will allow me to truly call them my Kenyan daughters. I will have that soon.
I can’t wait to meet them face-to-face. I can’t wait to laugh with them and cry with them. I can’t wait to watch my 6 children play with their 35 Kenyan sisters. I know it will complete a picture that, for me, has been more than four years in the making.
I’m ready. Let’s go.